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The Outreach center serves 1,905 individuals a month through food assistance, supporting many in the local community and neighbors of Water Street. Designed like a small grocery store, guests come and line up right before opening.
Then they walk through, picking up various food like canned fruit, cereal, vegetables, frozen meat, usually eggs and dairy, and on the way out some bread. As Outreach Ministries Coordinator, Kerry makes sure we have the right food to give out. Her challenge is to get important food items together, and get shoppers what they need.
But she also manages a huge volume of food, making sure fresh produce and bread get prioritized over food that lasts longer. While she works with staff to bring food in, on Outreach days it’s mostly volunteers who help give out the food.
With these volunteers, Kerry has created a little Outreach family, with volunteers returning year after year to support Water Street. They always pray together, and sometimes do bible studies before opening.
There is such a diverse group of people seeking food assistance each week, she always encourages volunteers to keep an open mind, smile, welcome everyone, and treat each person with respect. “Don’t make judgements…everyone has a story,” she explains.
One example that stands out is an older man who used to drive his neighbor to outreach each week. She found out later he had been injured at Pearl Harbor and went on to fight in Europe. After returning to Lancaster he owned his own business.
He starting coming to Outreach to help a friend, but getting groceries for himself helped him keep up with bills while on a fixed income. “You just never know the story behind the people who stand in line,” she says.
“You just never know the story behind the people who stand in line.”
In a lot of ways Kerry’s own story has taken twists and turns. She started off with Water Street 17 years ago as a Women’s Residential Counselor. For a time she worked at another Mission with her husband in Ohio, and then out of a church with other “little church ladies” as she calls them.
Kerry came back in a totally different role and department in 2017 when President Jack Crowley asked if she would take over the Outreach Center. Throughout so many different roles, her constant flexibility comes from her desire to just follow God in whatever He is doing, loving and serving wherever there is a need. It’s something Kerry has been motivated to think about in her own life. “Rather than venturing off, and doing your own thing, see where God is at work and join Him.”
“Rather than venturing off, and doing your own thing, see where God is at work and join Him.”